By John Grennan

Amanda Stump and Stephanie Tews have helped build a strong foundation for the College’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, which is devoted to constructing homes for families who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

The two seniors met in 2004 at a Habitat build during their freshman year, when they were handed a hammer and nails and told to build a ramp sturdy enough to hold two tons.

“It took us the whole day, but it was so cool to have done it,” Stump remembers. “It’s gratifying to do physical labor and realize that you have to do it together; you can’t do it alone.”

It was the first of many days the duo spent digging, painting and shingling roofs for homes in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

“I went on a few builds and I loved it,” Tews says. “It was great to work with our hands and work with families, and then see them get to move in.”

Both women are now Habitat leaders on campus, coordinating construction efforts with the group’s 20 regular members and the more than 100 students who show up for the College’s “Spring into Action” building campaign.

Stump and Tews have also built a friendship. They studied in Rome their junior year, learning Italian together. They live in the Santiago Community in Ageno Hall East, which brings together students interested in faith and service.

“We were both drawn to Santiago by the community aspect, people with the same values and enthusiasm,” Tews says.

The two busy seniors are also involved in individual endeavors on campus.

Tews, an economics major, helped research the East Bay’s fastest-growing jobs for the College’s annual State of the Economy Conference. She’s focused recently on international economics, including coursework in Rome.

“It was interesting to get an international economics perspective when I studied abroad,” she says. “I’ve also loved all of my economics classes at Saint Mary’s, and definitely want to pursue economics in some way when I graduate.”

She’s also a member of the Academic Honor Council, which reviews academic integrity issues on campus.

“Stephanie has seen that Saint Mary’s is a place where you have to stand on principle, and she’s risen up to that challenge,” says Shawny Anderson, associate dean of liberal arts.

Stump, a liberal and civics studies major, wants to be a first grade teacher and has already started work on her credential. She has tutored children at the LEO Center in Oakland and worked as a teacher’s assistant at Burton Valley Elementary in Lafayette.

“Amanda is a born teacher and has a gentle, inspiring spirit,” says Molleen Dupree, a former assistant director at the College’s Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action. “She is passionate about social justice and works hard to bring awareness of justice issues to campus.”

Tews and Stump acknowledge that the financial assistance they’ve received from the College has helped them to make the most of their education.

“Since I’m going into teaching, it’s good to know that I won’t be going into debt for college,” says Stump, who has Lazof Family and Logan scholarships.

Tews says her Wilder Trust Scholarship came as an unexpected and very welcome surprise during her junior year.

“It can get tiring, trying to keep up with finals, papers, and Habitat builds,” says Tews, “So it’s nice to be recognized for hard work.”

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